The sounds around us enrich our experience. Chirping birds on a quiet morning or your favorite song surprising you on the radio can enhance the precious moments of our day. However, sometimes sounds can be so loud or overwhelming that they can detract from the quality of your experience.
This is particularly true if you live in a noisy congested area, like a city or busy suburb. The sounds of honking cars, construction, the neighbors mowing the lawn and dogs barking can all add up to an overwhelmingly loud experience. Excessive noise is referred to as noise pollution and when your environment is constantly loud it cannot only be frustrating but cause permanent hearing damage.
When does noise become pollution
Many people love the noise of the city or have become used to the constant rumble of their neighborhood. If you have lived by a highway or noisy road for years, you may not even notice the sound at all. Just because you don’t notice the level of sound in your daily life does not mean that it is not causing you hearing damage. When noise is constantly above a safe level of listening it can contribute to hearing issues.
Any sound that reaches over 85 decibels can contribute to permanent hearing loss over time. As the decibel level rises that damage begins to happen quicker and has the potential to become more severe. The EPA recommends that when someone is exposed to noise for a 24-hour period that a safe decibel level is 55 dB. Meanwhile a household washing machine can reach 70 dB, which reveals the dangers of the noisy world we live in.
Noise Induced Hearing Loss
When sounds exceed safe listening levels damage can be sustained to tiny hairs and nerves in our inner ear, which are extremely fragile. These hairs receive the sounds around us and send them to our brain to be processed. When these hairs become less and less hearing loss occurs. While hearing loss is often considered an issue of the elderly, hearing loss is affecting more and more young people as our entire culture is constantly exposed to more and more noise on a daily basis.
Dangers of Noise Pollution
Aside from permanent hearing loss, noise pollution interrupts our sleep, affects our nervous system and can heighten our levels of stress. Our blood pressure can remain elevated due to excess sound and contribute to heart disease and hypertension. Researchers have been able to find connections between noise pollution and heart disease.
Major sources of noise pollution
The world around us keeps getting noisier and noisier. Major sources of noise pollution include traffic, lawnmowers, trains, music from neighbors, nearby airports, police sirens and barking dogs. As cities and suburbs become more congested, the sound level continues to rise. However, some sounds that harm our ears come from inside our own home.
Noisy appliances like dishwashers, washing machines and air conditioners can rise well above safe listening levels, especially if they are running at once. Another cause is our listening levels to music and TV. If you choose to listen to music using headphones for hours on end make sure to take breaks and keep the volume at 60% of potential volume or lower.
Defend yourself against noise pollution
When moving isn’t desired or an option there are steps you can take to defend your hearing and total health against noise pollution. Make sure that your appliances are operating efficiently and as quiet as possible. Use foam or cloth insulation under noisy appliances to absorb sound.
To protect yourself from loud environmental noises, it helps to have carpeting in your home and curtains over your windows to absorb street noise. If you have a yard, tall trees and shrubs can absorb the sounds from the street creating a sense of quiet in your home. When you are out and about on noisy streets it is a good idea to wear ear protection for the moments when you find yourself surrounded by excess noise.
Protect your hearing
If you do have hearing loss, while it is not reversible it can be treated using hearing aids. Contact us to set up a hearing test. We can help you find the best hearing aids to help you navigate an increasingly noisy world.